BIRMINGHAM 23 07 2016-2016

English Series Round Ten
The Birmingham Trophy

We were delighted to see sixteen drivers arrive at Birmingham to compete on a sultry summer Saturday night in England’s second city. Many drivers had put in hours and hours of hard work repaying their machines after a particularly damage strewn National Championship meeting at Ipswich just three weeks earlier.

Defending English Series Points Champion 198 Andy Steward and his team had worked especially hard on his Mk2 Escort repairing the wings, front and valance. Equally, Harry Steward and father Tick and team had virtually rebuilt the #RedDevil Anglia and so too had 101 John Bowring with his blue Anglia. 257 #ThePocketRocket Andrew Willis unveiled a pleasing surprise when he opened the bonnet on his diminutive yellow A30. Andrew had a new race cam in his 2 litre pinto but in keeping with the BMC theme of his popular race machine, he had painted the rocker cover British Racing Green and has put the Austin badges on it. It certainly looked the part! It was great to see the return of Southampton’s 419 Dave Murphy, and from Scotland, already assured the title in CHR of ‘Traveller of the Year,’ and fresh from a good performance at Tipperary just the previous week, travelling #TrevTheRev 12 Trevor Harris was down with his spanner wing men John MacFarlane and Graham McCabe. Along with our usual committed suspects like #TheItalianStallion 121 Charlie Schembri, 2 Colin Chambers was making only his second appearance of the year in his all white Escort with son Scott taking one of his irregular outings in his dad’s Anglia, this year registered under number 21. #Chambo was certainly to have a pronounced impact on the nights proceedings.

21 Scott #TheManc Chambers retired even before the rolling lap for the first race of the night got underway but when it did, 257 Andrew Willis led them away for the first of the two twenty lap heats, and for two laps #ThePocketRocket Austin A30 led! Andrew found himself under immediate pressure from Colin Chambers and #TrevTheRev, who Crossflow powered Anglia was screaming it’s nuts off delightfully. Spinning out, 121 Charlie Schembri was the first to retire as Chambers stormed up the inside of the Austin to take the lead. As expected the higher graded drivers were fighting out out amongst themselves, but #TheKartingKid was making the break and beginning to slice through the pack. A fascinatingly close battle was being fought over the low places by the three striking Anglias of #FamilyGuy Murphy, #Harold and 101 Bowring with 72 #NorfolkBoy Goodswen also in the mix. Up ahead 4 Karl #Dudley Jones was nursing a flappingly loose wing after running well in third place after running side by side with #GoodGuy Gooding. After his early laps heroic lead, #ThePocketRocket dived to the infield with problems with Chambers at this point leading strongly from Gooding, Jones, Boyd and #TheGent 166 Dave Stevens. Craig made short work of passing #Dudley and #TheGoodGuy but as #Donut began a late charge through the field, 45 sought to tackle the leader. As #Dudley retired, with a suberbly handling Austin A40 under him and supreme confidence in his own ability, Craig took the high line on Chambers, only for the power sliding all white Escort in front of him to block his path. For several laps the lead duo, clear of the field, battled supreme and when Chambers went loose and wild again, the super smooth Boyd took the high line once more and out raced 2 to turn three, and finally, #TheKarting Kid was through. In the remaining laps as Craig went through for a deserved victory, Andy Steward locked horns with Chambers, who looked to defend his second place with as much determination and gusto as he did the lead. With a deadly flamboyance, 2 successfully denied an aggressive #Donut, but in the penultimate lap, a power slide too much was all the 198 needed and #Chambo was demoted to third. It was certainly an exciting first race of the night.

45, 198, 2, 166, 101, 911, 72, 419, 31, 44

Heat two continued in much the same vein with 257 transformed, at least in the early laps, by setting the pace. It was certainly wonderful to watch the little #PocketRocket play his part in a very ‘David v Goliath’ role! Andrew was hotly pursued by 2, 12, 31 and 44 #PenelopePitstop Kara Boyd. It is of note just how transformed #LittleMissBoydy was performing this night at Birmingham. Maybe the bash she received at Ipswich was the jolt she needed as her pace was immeasurably better at this meeting. At the back 198 Andy Steward, 72 Gary Goodswen and 911 Harry Steward all proceeded to trip each other up and in tagging one another snaked dangerously onto the infield and were lucky to escape serious damage. Goodswen and Steward senior at worst lost time and made their way back onto the racing line just ahead of the leading pack. There was a change up front and #TheTravellingScotsman #TrevTheRev Harris in the cherry and cream Anglia hit the lead and was racing the best he had done so far in his CHR career. Behind, 2 Colin Chambers was jousting side by side with 31 Steve #TheGoodGuy Gooding and 166 #TheGent Dave Stevens making another charge from the B Grade. After a few laps Chambers powered up the inside of Harris’s Crossflow powered car followed by 31, 166, 44, 4, 101 and 419. Overall the low graders were enjoying s great run in this second heat but they only needed to look in their mirrors to see that, once again, #TheKartingKid was on a charge! Behind, Uncle and Nephew clashed again as wheels jarred with arches and the youngster went into a spin. The next minute Trevor Harris swore he spotted a haggis on the infield and dived up the banking to investigate! Chambers still led with 166 Stevens now breathing his exhaust fumes at the half way stage and in next to no time Boyd joined to make it a three way fight. It was terrifically close with Boyd bouncing the apron and Stevens riding the cushion in their endeavour to get passed. #Chambo succumbed after three laps of nail biting action and Boyd just scrapped through to take the lead followed by #TheGent. The next moment 121 Charlie Schembri and 219 Dave Stevens tagged in their haste to pass 31 Steve Gooding. In an almighty crash, Schembri’s 2016 blues continued, and not for the first time in his Birmingham experiences, #TheItalianStallion was in the plating, this time backwards! There was an unsatisfactory delay before the yellow flags were thrown to extrapolate the heavily damaged 121 Mk1. Murphy also retired to the infield. Just two laps remained on the re-start and from the drop of the green Boyd made certain his victory ahead of Stevens. There was a drag to the line for third and all credit to 101 #TheWycombeWanderer John Bowring who held out #Donut. 4 Karl #Dudley Jones achieved a creditable fifth and Kara Boyd took her Woolsley 44 to an equally creditable eighth.

45, 166, 101, 198, 4, 2, 31, 44, 72, 911

The twelve car final proved to be very controversial. #Chambo Chambers wasted no time in taking the lead and indeed built up quite a healthy cushion. Harris, Gooding and Jones gamely chased but it looked like the all white Mk2 could be on his way to his first final victory. Once again, the low graders impressed with their pace but Boyd was on a flyer. Craig got in close as those ahead went three wide and made up more ground as 4 tagged with 31 and 166 and spun on the City bend. Half a lap later and Stevens, damaged, went over the turn three rumble strips. As Boyd passed the valiant Harris to take second place, Gooding inexplicably ran Goodswen wide on turn three and Gary was fortunate to be on such a wide track which only just saved him from hitting the fence. Craig was in the groove but still had to pull out all the stops to catch Chambers. #Donut and#Harold got by Harris, followed by Bowring but it was still all about the top too, and what a battle for the lead we were treated too. Chambers was on the ragged edge as he attempted to thwart Boyd’s advance, and once again he threw the tail out wide in almost reckless abandon. Keeping cool, Boyd waited his chance, knowing that a car going sideways is not a car going forwards, and taking the high line, he worked it and worked it again, and finally out dragged the Chambers Escort into turn three. Boyd was on his way to a fantastic triple! However fireworks of a far more unsavoury nature followed in the dying laps as Andy Steward sought to beat Chambers to second place. Never one to pussy foot around, #Donut looked to force his favoured inside line by unsettling Chambers. However Colin took clear exception to Steward’s ‘manoeuvring’ and deliberately slowed through the City bend, forcing #Donut, and #Harold at the same time, to go to the outside to pass. Then, down the back straight, car 2 clearly accelerated, latched onto 198 and into turn four, deliberately spun the Silver roofed car. Within a lap Chambers was naturally black flagged and one lap later Craig Boyd took his first final of the year. Harry Steward beat John Bowring to second place but the action continued into the lower places and it was exciting to see Trevor Harris again impress with his fifth place and Andrew Willis race to the line with Kara Boyd, with CHR’s girl racer just beating the lad with the yellow overalls that match his car!

45, 911, 101, 72, 12, 31, 198, 44, 257, NOF

With Chambers summoned to race control post race, it is clear that if the fine balance required to race historic oval cars is a fine one, but if the trust the drivers have in the officials and each other is not to break down, then poor driving will have to be called in and addressed harder than previously thought necessary.

Rob Hughes

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